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‘They never gave up on her’: Recovered Guam Covid-19 patient heads home

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) —  Nadea Sajise celebrated her birthday on Saturday, but she got an early birthday wish on Friday.

For the last month, she had been fighting for her life, hooked up to a ventilator at Guam Memorial Hospital. Her husband, Jerry, wasn’t sure his wife would make it back home to celebrate her birthday.

Last month, the couple had gone shopping on a Saturday afternoon to buy groceries and prepare for the lockdown.

“In the evening, I saw her kind of not feel well,” said Jerry. “I’m not really thinking about the virus but then after we sleep, early morning, I woke up like 5:30 a.m. I saw her having a hard time breathing. When I touched her forehead, she had a fever.”

Guam Memorial Hospital staff line both sides of the hallway as Nadea Sajise is escorted out of the hospital Friday. Contributed photo

His wife is asthmatic and diabetic, and he knew the situation wasn’t good when the nebulizer didn’t help her. He called 911 and they took her to GMH.

“That afternoon, she was talking to me, but in the evening, she was already on the ventilator. It happened so quick,” he said.

Nadea was on the ventilator for one month and two days, her husband said.

And for the first time in their 32 years of marriage, the two were separated by an invisible virus that prevented him from staying by her side to care for and comfort her.

“I was not by her bedside. What should I do? It was a prison for me. I prayed to God that a miracle would happen.”

At one point, his wife was taken off the ventilator but soon after, she was put back on it when her condition worsened.

“I was so scared. I got so scared she might go into cardiac arrest, but the doctors are very patient and nurses there. They really wanted to help her survive,” said Jerry.

On Friday, Nadea was wheeled out of her hospital room and given a celebration she never expected.

Dozens of hospital staff lined the hallway, clapping and cheering as Nadea was wheeled out of the hospital.

“Everybody, even the security guard, housekeeping, the nurses, they never gave up on her. They really wanted my wife to overcome the virus,” said Jerry.

And at the hospital entrance, Jerry’s prayers were answered as he embraced his wife surrounded by the many hospital team members who helped make his wife’s recovery possible.

“It was a long battle. I had sleepless nights. I want to help her, but I can’t,” said Jerry.

Nurses who tended to his wife stayed in daily contact, giving him updates on her condition as she made a slow recovery.

After testing negative twice for the virus, Friday was the big day.

“I’m so thankful this is over,” said Jerry as he stood next to his wife. “We would like to say thank you to everyone. Thanks to TakeCare and Dr. Thomas Shieh for helping us get the CPAP machine for my wife so she could come home.”

“I was very happy to see her leaving GMH because she was our last Covid-19 positive patient at the hospital,” said Shieh. “Thank you Team GMH, Dr. Joleen Aguon, Dr. Taylor, staff members including our janitorial staff for taking care of our Covid-19 patients.”

The couple, who have called Guam home since 1993, had immense gratitude for the men and women of GMH.

He noted this recent experience was very different from past visits to the island’s public hospital.

“Because of the pandemic, maybe their motivation is very strong. The doctors and nurses, they were more engaged. They’re really the heroes. Everyone there,” he said. “I would like to say thank you so much. They risked their lives for the sake of their profession. From the top down to the last person at GMH. They were all supportive. They were in this fight together.”

The couple was touched when hospital staff gave gifts to her as she departed.

Nadea was overwhelmed with emotion as her more than monthlong battle ended on Friday. Her voice is still not 100%, so she isn’t talking much. Jerry is grateful for answered prayers, supportive family and friends, and to have the love of his life back at home to enjoy her favorite beef stew and kare-kare (simmered oxtail, vegetables and peanut-based sauce) which he cooked up to welcome her home.

As for her birthday plans, Jerry said the couple would celebrate at home and working to get her stronger.

“I’m so happy she’s home. Our kids, who live off island in Las Vegas, they’re so happy. They asked me to take a video of their mom coming out of the hospital. In all my excitement, I forget to press record,” he said with a laugh.

Fortunately, his wife’s hospital discharge was well documented by GMH staff who celebrated the occasion.

“They’re really the heroes. Everyone there at GMH. They really are heroes,” he said. “They risked their lives to make my wife live. The entire hospital was rooting for my wife. We would like to say thank you so much.”

 

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